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Questions

  1. What is a proxy server?
  2. What is the use of proxy servers?
  3. What is an anonymous proxy server?
  4. What is a public proxy server?
  5. Is the "anonymous proxy" I came across on the Internet really anonymous?

What is a Proxy Server?

A proxy server is a kind of buffer between your computer and the Internet resources you are accessing (e.g. Web sites or FTP archives). The data you request come to the proxy first, and only then it transmits the data to you.


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What is the use of proxy servers?

Usually, proxy servers are used to increase the effective speed of your connection to the Internet, as they save files that are requested most often in a special database called "cache". The cache of a proxy server is generally huge in its capacity, and contains not only the requests made by you, but also the files that have been requested by hundreds, if not thousands, of other Internet users. As a result, the information you need may already be present in cache by the time of your request, making it possible for the proxy to deliver it immediately. The overall increase in performance may be very high. Besides that, proxy servers can help in cases when, for example, the owners of the Internet resource impose some restrictions on users from certain countries or geographic regions.


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What is an anonymous proxy server?

Any web site in the world can track your movements through its pages and monitor your reading interests using your IP address, a unique ID assigned to each computer on the Internet. Depending on the policies of the Internet resource, you might not be able to get access to the information you need. Also, your visit can be registered and used later to gather some personal information about you.


It is widely agreed that governments and organizations publish dummy websites on controversial topics for the purpose of monitoring interested parties. Also, this information, in combination with your e-mail address, can be used to increase the number of targeted advertisements fired at you by the marketers.


Using only your IP address and the information about your operating system, a Web site can automatically exploit security holes in your system using some not-very-complex, ready-made, free hacking programs. Some of such programs may just hang your machine, making you reboot it, but other, more powerful ones, can get access to the content of your hard drive or RAM. The anonymous proxy prevents this by hiding your IP address so that no one can access your computer via the network. In most cases, however, proxies do inform the target server about the address of the computer that made the request, transmitting your IP-address in different forms.


Anonymous (real anonymous!) proxy servers don't transfer the information about the IP-address of the client, and thus effectively hide the information about you and your surfing interests. Besides that, some proxy servers can also hide the very fact that you are surfing through a proxy server! Anonymous proxies can be used for all kinds of Web-services, such as Web-Mail (MSN Hot Mail, Yahoo mail), web-chat rooms, FTP archives, etc.


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What is a public proxy server?

It is a proxy server which is free and open for everybody on the Internet. There is quite a large number of public proxy servers in many countries but most of them are not anonymous.


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Is the "anonymous proxy" I came across on the Internet really an anonymous one?

Most probably, No. We have studied more than 8,000 public proxy servers and found that only a few hundred of them are true anonymous proxy servers. Although almost half of all servers call themselves "anonymous" because they do not transfer the client's IP address in the standard way, nevertheless the address is present in their requests in other different forms and therefore they do not provide any anonymity. Besides, we found that some proxies transfer the IP address of the client occasionally, from time to time.


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